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Effects of mindfulness training in asthma ‘comparable to inhalers’

Mindfulness training produces clinically significant improvements in quality of life and stress that are equivalent to those seen with inhalers in patients with asthma, a US trial has found.

Researchers studied 83 patients who had a physician-documented case of asthma and randomised participants to receive either mindfulness-based stress reduction, or a control of a healthy living course.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction featured eight weekly sessions lasting two-and-a-half hours each, with one six hour session in the sixth week.

At 12 months, those in the intervention group had a clinically significant improvement in asthma-related quality of life compared with the controls, with an increase in scores of 0.72 and 0.06 respectively. Perceived stress scores had also decreased by 4.3 in the intervention group, compared with an increase of 0.2 in the controls.

Study lead Dr Lori Pbert, professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said: ‘From clinical perspective, these findings are comparable to quality of life improvements in trials of widely prescribed asthma medications, including inhaled corticosteroids and an anti-IgE antibody.'

Thorax 2012, online 27 April


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